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Fisher-Titus celebrates World Autism Awareness Day by revealing community “Be a Piece of the Puzzle” mural

• Mar 31, 2018 at 2:00 PM

Thanks to the support of the community, Fisher-Titus Pediatric Therapy, New Beginnings Pediatrics and Fisher-Titus Behavioral Health will reveal a 7-foot by 5-foot “Be a Piece of the Puzzle” mural to celebrate World Autism Awareness Day on Monday.

The mural will be revealed at 11 a.m. Monday and be displayed through Tuesday in Fisher-Titus Medical Center’s Shady Lane Café.

In February and March, Fisher-Titus invited local businesses and community members to “Be a Piece of the Puzzle” in an effort to raise autism awareness and funding for local programs offered through Fisher-Titus Pediatric Therapy.

“Each year we light our campus blue for World Autism Awareness Day and our employees also wear blue on that day,” said Mary Helton, director of rehabilitation at Fisher-Titus Medical Center. “This year we wanted to do something different and involve the community in an awareness campaign.”

The idea was to have community members purchase puzzle pieces for a $5 donation, design their own unique puzzle pieces and return them so Fisher-Titus could create a large mural to put on display. The response was overwhelming with more than 290 pieces submitted and $2,000 raised for the Fisher-Titus Pediatric Therapy program, according to Helton.

“We are amazed by all of the puzzle pieces submitted and the creativity of our community,” said Lindsey Esker, special program coordinator at Fisher-Titus. “We hope everyone will stop by the Shady Lane Cafe to see the finished piece of artwork.”

In addition to the puzzle mural, blue lights will be a common theme for Fisher-Titus Medical Center, New Beginnings Pediatrics and Fisher-Titus Behavioral Health from now through April 6.

Fisher-Titus Medical Center has registered as a Light It Up Blue participant with Autism Speaks, an international organization that every year on World Autism Awareness Day celebrates its international “Light It Up Blue” campaign.

"An estimated one in 68 children in the U.S. is on the autism spectrum. We do this to shine a light on autism spectrum disorders and support our Autism Spectrum Kids (ASK) program at Fisher-Titus,” said Matthew Gross, Fisher-Titus Health CEO.

World Autism Awareness Day (WAAD) was adopted by the United Nations in 2007 to shine a bright light on autism as a growing global health priority. Every year on World Autism Awareness Day, which is officially April 2, thousands of iconic landmarks, skyscrapers, schools, businesses and homes across the globe unite by shining bright blue lights in honor of the millions of individuals and families affected by autism. Individuals everywhere wear blue in honor of the community.

“By Lighting Fisher-Titus blue both inside and out, we are bringing awareness to our co-workers, patients, visitors and community about Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), a group of developmental disabilities that can cause significant social, communication and behavioral challenges,” Esker said.

New Beginnings Pediatrics and Fisher-Titus Behavioral Health will also will be participating in this autism awareness campaign. In addition, on Monday, April 2, Fisher-Titus employees will be wearing blue to bring awareness to Autism.

“New Beginnings Pediatrics thoroughly supports the Light It Up Blue Campaign and World Autism Awareness Day,” said Dr. Glenn Trippe, Fisher-Titus Chief of Pediatrics and founder of New Beginnings Pediatrics. “We further support the use of screening tools for autism for every child at ages 18-24 months that should be done in every practice to better detect and begin treatment for autism.”

A diagnosis of ASD now includes several conditions that used to be diagnosed separately: autistic disorder, pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS), and Asperger syndrome. ASD occurs in all racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic groups, but is almost five times more common among boys than among girls.

"Diagnosis of ASD is still a clinical diagnosis, as there is no FDA approved blood or imaging diagnostic test to confirm the disorder,” said Dr. Upender Gehlot, a board certified psychiatrist at Fisher-Titus Behavioral Health. “Instead, comprehensive and careful observations and assessment is required to identify impairments in social/communication domains and recognition of restricted, repetitive or stereotype patterns of behaviors."

To assist physicians in diagnosing ASD, the Fisher-Titus Medical Center Pediatric Therapy Department offers an ASD evaluation if a physician suspects ASD. The evaluation includes a thorough case history and parent interview; the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule - 2nd edition (ADOS-2), which is considered the “gold standard” for evaluating and diagnosing autism for individuals age 18 months and older; and a report of results sent to the referring physician.

Once a diagnosis is determined Fisher-Titus can provide specialized therapy services, as well as support services through the Fisher-Titus Autism Spectrum Kids (ASK) program, which was introduced to the community in 2001 to help families and children living with autism spectrum disorder.

ASK is a program of Fisher-Titus Medical Center Kids’ Place for Therapy & Learning, a unique area designed for children’s special needs that offers a variety of programs and therapeutic interventions. The Kids’ Place for Therapy & Learning offers specialized therapy for children and adolescents including occupational therapy, speech therapy, physical therapy, and therapy for children with feeding disorders.

The program offers educational seminars, referral resources, phone consultations, outreach programs, classes for children and families, and promotion of autism awareness.

For more information on ASK or pediatric therapy programs, contact Lindsey Esker at 419-663-1975, Ext. 3040 or visit fisher-titus.org.

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